When they force you to say the words:

A professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio will be paid $400,000 after he was disciplined four years ago for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronouns. 

Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State, was reprimanded in 2018 after he would not refer to a transgender student by her preferred pronouns. He had a warning placed in his file and was told to change the way he addresses transgender students “to avoid further corrective actions.” 

So a university – a place with, one would hope, some concept of respect for truth – ordered a professor to pretend a male student was a female student by calling him “her.” Not urged, not requested, but told. It’s degrading. It’s like telling the faculty to spend the first half hour of every class reading Winnie the Pooh to the students. It’s degrading to all parties, including the university.

The warning stemmed from an incident in 2018, during one of his Meriwether’s lectures when he called a transgender student “sir” when she raised her hand. The student asked Meriwether to call her by her preferred pronouns, which he refused to do saying his “sincerely held religious beliefs prevented him from communicating messages about gender identity that he believes are false.” 

It’s not a religious belief though. It’s a universal “belief,” or rather a fact. Males aren’t females; females aren’t males; we all know that; religion has nothing to do with it. Houses aren’t ice cream, eagles aren’t forks, potatoes aren’t oceans, steel isn’t paper, earthquakes aren’t tiramisu. No university should be ordering its professors (or any other staff) to lie at the behest of a warped stupid reality-denying pseudo-politics.

In a statement, Shawnee State said the settlement was an “economic decision” and that it continues to stand behind a student’s right to a discrimination-free learning environment while also allowing its faculty and staff to freely express their beliefs. 

It’s not “discrimination” (in the pejorative sense Shawnee State means) to refuse to call male students “she.” It’s not comparable to the old Whites Only lunch counters and water fountains in the South.

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